Republicans, Democrats appear headed for more battles on Affordable Care Act

Phillip Cunningham
March 27, 2019

"The Department of Justice has determined that the district court's comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal", Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

Top congressional Democrats on Tuesday attacked a legal move by the Trump administration to step up its assault on the Obamacare healthcare law, saying last November's elections showed Americans want them to protect the Affordable Care Act.

The 2010 law, seen as the signature domestic achievement of Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, has been a flash point of American politics since it passed, with Republicans including Trump repeatedly attempting to overturn it.

"Because the U.S.is not urging the any portion of the district court's judgement be reversed, the government intends to file a brief on the appellees' schedule".

Because the case is before one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, it nearly guarantees that the issue will return to the newly solidified conservative Supreme Court at some point.

"Tonight in federal court, the Trump Administration decided not only to try to destroy protections for Americans living with pre-existing conditions, but to declare all-out war on the health care of the American people", said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In a capital city consumed with the political storm over special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation report, Democrats are trying to show they also care about policy by falling back on an issue that worked well for them in last year's midterm elections. "In an interview with "60 Minutes" as a candidate in 2015, Mr. Trump said that the uninsured will be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now" and "the government's gonna pay for it".


This month, the GOP-led Senate rebuked Trump with a 59-41 vote blocking his declaration after the failure of a Republican effort to reach a compromise with the White House.

Previously, the administration had called only for parts of the law to go.

In his December decision, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor said the ACA had survived its first wave of challenges only because the Supreme Court determined in 2012 that the penalty imposed on those who did not sign up for coverage was a valid exercise of Congress' power to tax and spend. The Trump administration's newly stated policy on Obamacare allows Democrats to pivot to talking about an issue with which they stand on firmer ground. The tax overhaul repealed the individual mandate, which required Americans to either get health insurance or face a financial penalty. This wouldn't fix the nation's health care system so much as return it to the pre-Obamacare status quo, which was broken in different ways.

Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve School of Law, writing on Reason.com, said the latest DOJ position was "astounding".

At the time, the Justice Department argued only two provisions of the health care law should be tossed out: one that requires insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and another that prevents insurers from charging a higher premium due to pre-existing conditions. Therefore, he argued, "the individual mandate is unconstitutional" and invalidates the rest of the ACA.

"At the end of the day, I don't think this is going to have a big effect", Adler said.

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